SANTA CRUZ TREK, PISCO & CHOPICALQUI

PER-13 / 15-day trip / Grade: AD

TREK: Classic Santa Cruz Trek
PEAKS
: Pisco (5752 m) & Chopicalqui (6354 m)

Santa Cruz Trek, Pisco & Chopicalqui
OVERVIEW

In this program we combine various classic itineraries from Cordillera Blanca, into one program. It begins with the classic Santa Cruz trek from Cashapampa to Vaqueria over, Punta Union pass, building a solid acclimatization while enjoying one of the most beautiful and panoramic treks in the range.

The second part of the program, aims at climbing two of the most iconic peaks in the Llanganuco Valley: Pisco (5725 m) and Chopicalqui (6354 m). Pisco is a very straightforward climb, which provides a great experience and improves the acclimatization as preparation for the final goal: Chopicalqui. This last summit is a very aesthetic and demanding 6000-meter climb, located beside the Huascarans. It resembles a pyramid with quite steep faces, but a Southwest ridge being the most accessible of them all. It is rated as AD and very popular due to its quick access and fairly reasonable difficulty. The climb is very exiting and with amazing landscapes guaranteed!


Day 1 Arrival in Lima, Peru
Day 2 Lima – Huaraz (3005 m)
Day 3 Churup lake (4445 m)
Day 4 Llamacorral (3760 m)
Day 5 Taullipampa campsite (4148 m)
Day 6 Punta Union mountain pass (4768 m)
Day 7 Vaqueria & Cebollapampa camp (3883 m)
Day 8 Pisco high camp (4672 m)
Day 9 Climb: Pisco (5752 m)
Day 10 Cebollapampa – Rest day (3883 m)
Day 11 Chopicalqui base camp (4978 m)
Day 12 Chopicalqui high camp (5300 m)
Day 13 Climb: Chopicalqui (6354 m)
Day 14 Back to Huaraz
Day 15 Huaraz – Lima
ITINERARY
Day 1

Arrival in Lima, Peru
Pick up at airport and transfer-in to hotel in Lima.
Night in hotel.

Day 2

Lima – Huaraz (3005 m)
After breakfast, transfer to bus terminal for tourist public bus to Huaraz. The bus ride takes about 8 hours, depending on the traffic leaving Lima. The road trip goes along the pacific coast, heading north and then eastwards up the Andes. The first sight will be the Huayhash Range, before heading back north where the first summits of the Cordillera Blanca will appear. The road starts to descend towards the city of San Sebastian de Huaraz, locally known just as Huaraz. Huaraz is the capital of the Anchash region and is located in the spectacular Cajon del Huaylas valley, between the Cordillera Negra on the West side and the Cordillera Blanca on the East side, with the highest mountain in the country in the background: Huascaran (6768 m).
Huaraz is the main departing point for mountain activities, both to the Cordillera Blanca and Huashuash range; therefore it is considered the Peruvian “Chamonix”. The city has a wide offer of services as: restaurants, accommodations, grocery stores, gear shops and guide services.
Upon arrival in Huaraz, transfer to the hostel.
Night in hostel.
Included meals: Breakfast

Day 3

Churup lake (4445 m)
This day hike is one of the classic acclimatization itineraries in the Cordillera Blanca. The Churup peak is located close to Huaraz and can be seen from town. It is ideal to gain a good amount of altitude in a day and return back to Huaraz to sleep low. From Huaraz transfer (1:30 h) to Pitec’s trailhead (3660 m), from this place a very well maintained handmade trail begins its ascent following a ridge that gains altitude quite fast. Soon the handmade trail turns into a mountain trail, as it takes the northern side of the Churup River valley. The ascent gets steeper from this point and a bit demanding. Once on a wide plateau, a well deserved rest, before climbing up the last section where a bit of very easy scrambling secured by a good set of wires lead to a easy last section ending by the shores of the lake at 4445 m. The rocky lake’s shores are a great spot to have a bite while enjoying the amazing sight to the Churup peak. For those who want to challenge themself, it is possible to hike further up 45 minutes to the Churupita lake, right on the moraine (please check this possibility with your guide, as sometimes it is not accesible). The descent follows the same trail and takes an average time of 1,5 h. The transport back to Huaraz.
Night in hostel.
Ascent: 605 m / Descent: 605 m / Highest Altitude: 4445 m / Activity duration: 5-6 h / Distance one-way: 3,1 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 4

Llamacorral (3760 m)
Hotel pick-up in Huaraz and 3 hours drive to the head of trail. After leaving Huaraz, the vehicle will drive down the Cajon de Huaylas where there are some of the best views over the Huacaran and Huandoy’s masiffs. The road passes the towns of Yungay and Caraz, after the last one, leaving the tarmac road for a dirt mountain road that swings its way by the Cordillera’s mountain sides. The landscapes are just great and the panoramic view to the pyramid of the Santa Cruz peak (6250 m). After about 1 hour, the settlement of Cashapampa (2930 m) will appear. This is the entrance to the Huascaran National park and the beginning of the trek. After the bureaucratic formalities, the team will take a well marked trail that ascents by a gorge flanked by rock walls carved by the beautiful Santa Cruz River, the same that will accompany most of the day’s hike. The first two hours or so, it’s quite hot and a relative steep, until the gorge opens up to a wider valley and the slope eases out. Around this area the guide will find a nice lunch spot for a break. Then the ascent is much more gentle but still quite some distance to cover until the camp. The camp called Llamacorral (3760 m) is located on the river banks of Santa Cruz River with a panoramic view to the Taulliraju peak, a quite spectacular summit at the end of the valley.
Night in tents.
Ascent: 830 m / Highest Altitude: 3760 m / Activity duration: 5-6 h / Distance: 12 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 5

Taullipampa campsite (4148 m)
Early start from Llamacorral campsite, heading up the Santa Cruz River valley. After a short while the trail will pass over the remains of an old lake swept away by a landslide. From this point the valley widens even more and after an gentle slope the Quitacocha lake appears with its deep green color. It’s main source is the Quitaraju peak which elevates to 6100 meters. At the end of the lake an almost dry river bed will lead up to a rustic bridge where the trail changes sides to the northern margin. This is usually the lunch spot and the first glimpse to the famous Artensonraju peak 6025 meters. This mountain is an almost perfect pyramid and the locals say this is the summit that inspired the Paramount studios’ logo… something debatable. From the lunch place there is a trail that goes straight to the next campsite, but we advise to hike up to “El mirador” (4175 m) a view point located 150 meters after a relative steep ascent, but worth every step! From the “mirador” it is the best place to see the mighty Alpamayo peak, crowned as one of he most beautiful mountains in the world, and also the neighboring summits of Quitaraju. On the other side of the valley one of the best panoramic views to Artosanraju, Paron and Caraz peaks, as they raise from the valley. After a good time to enjoy such a landscape, there is a high trail that traverses eastwards to Taullipampa campsite. This is the highest camp on the trek (4148 m), located on a green plateau at the foot of Taulliraju mountain and Punta Union pass.
Night in tents.
Ascent: 388 m / Descend: 27 m / Highest Altitude: 4175 m / Activity duration: 5-6 h / Distance: 15,1 Km.

Option: For those who feel well and have enough energy, it is possible to extend the day’s march a bit, hiking from “El Mirador” up to Arhuaycocha lake (4428 m) at the foot of Alpamayo’s glacier, surrounded by other impressive summits. On the way to the lake, there is the Alpamayo’s base camp, where it is possible to see some of the expeditions attempting the climb. The panorama from the lake is worth the extra effort, but it is important to have the time and stamina to make in good time to the camp. This extra hike is approximately 6 km and 2 hours more to an already long day.
Ascent: 669 m / Descend: 281 m / Highest Altitude: 4429 m / Activity duration: 7-8 h / Distance: 21,1 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 6

Punta Union mountain pass (4768 m)
Early start from Taullipampa campsite taking a trail that head up to the highest point on the trek: Punta Union mountain pass at 4768 m. The ascent is progressive and have a couple of steep sections. The view during the hike is worth all the effort! The terrain changes from the high grass to moraine and rock slopes, as it gets closer to the pass. The turquoise Taullicocha lake can be seen down at the base of the mountain that bears the same name. The pass is literally a “gate” into another Valley with a whole different atmosphere and some of the most iconic summits in the horizon: Chopicalqui, Huascaran South, Copa, between so many others. From this alpine spot, the descent is quite gentle and the vegetation will start changing from rocks into bushes and then into Quitua trees. After about 2,5 h Paria camp (3850 m) will be reached and 30 minutes later Quitua Campsite (3700 m), the last camp of this amazing trek.
Night in tents.
Ascent: 620 m / Descend: 1068 m / Highest Altitude: 4768 m / Activity duration: 6-7 h / Distance: 12,2 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 7

Vaqueria & Cebollapampa (3883 m)
After a good sleep at a lower altitude and having a nice breakfast in the morning, the team will start the last hiking day heading down the valley following a very pleasant trail over meadows down to the first peasant settlements. While passing the houses, it is possible to see the local’s daily life, while descending to the lowest place on the hike at the crossing of Yurma River (3398 m), from this point an approximate 251 meters ascent to the pick up spot known as Vaqueria (3649 m), where the transport awaits to take the group back to Huaraz. The road trip (2,5 h) back is not just any trip, first the car will drive up to the Potechela pass (4590 m) from where there is one of the best viewpoint of the entire Cordillera Blanca, standing right at the top of Yanganuco valley having a panoramic view to Chopicalqui (6354 m), Huascarans North and South (6768 m), the Huandoys (6360 m), Pisco (5752 m), Chacraraju (6108 m) and other famous summits. Once at the bottom of the valley, the vehicle will drive to a grassy meadow known as Cebollapampa (3883 m), where the camp will be setup.
Night in tent.
Descend: 302 m / Ascent: 251 m / Highest Altitude: 3700 m / Activity duration: 3-4 h / Distance: 10,2 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 8

Pisco high camp (4672 m)
A relaxing morning at the lovely camp in Cebollapampa, with view to the coming summits and the unreachable ones!
After packing down the camp and getting the pack animals ready, the team will take the Pisco well worn trail that goes on the left margin of the river valley, all the way to a high meadow were the base camp site is establish. The place is very nice and has one of the best views towards Vallunaraju, Chacraraju, a bit the Huascarans and Huandoys and the beautiful Chopicalqui.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 789 m / Highest Altitude: 4672 m / Activity duration: 3 h / Distance: 3,6 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 9

Climb: Pisco (5752 m)
Nevado Pisco (Nevado, means snow cover), is one of the most popular climbs in the Cordillera for both advance and novice climbers. Its has a very beautiful normal route: the Western summit, which in general terms has good conditions and one of the best vintage point in the whole area, with a panoramic 360º view in all directions, to all the major summits in the range. The mountain was fist climbed in 1951 by a French team and baptised after the ascents’ celebration, where a lot of Pisco was drunken (Pisco is the national drink in Peru).

The climb starts quite early in the morning, around 2 AM, leaving BC and heading up a beaten track that finds its way through the moraine to a ridge, from where the is an almost vertical descend by some fixed ropes/chains to the bottom of the morraine valley. After a short while, the Matacocha Lake marks a steeper ascent up to the glacier. After gearing up, the climb switchbacks until reaching the high col, which joins Pisco with the Huandoys. From this point, there is a perfect view to the upper route’s section and a great shot over Artesonraju’s icy wall. The ascent follows a very scenic ridge that gains progressively altitude until the summit.
Descent follows the same trail of ascent. Once back at BC, the staff will help packing the camp down, and keep on descending to Cebollapampa for another night at this nice and low place.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 1080 m / Descent: 1869 m / Highest Altitude: 5752 m / Activity duration: 12-14 h / Distance to the summit: 3,9 Km. / Distance from summit to Cebollapampa: 7,5 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 10

Cebollapampa – Rest day (3883 m)
Relaxing day at base camp, to recover and enjoy this lovely place.
Night in tent.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 11

Chopicalqui base camp (4978 m)
Today the aim is to reach Chopicalqui’s base camp. The transport drive up to the trailhead, located in a very close turn. From this point, the porters will help carrying the gear. The hike is one of the best in the area, reaching a low BC after an hours walk. Then the trail goes up to a very nice ridge that extends for quite a while until reaching the steepest section, which has very well defined switchbacks leading straight up to a series of ledges where the camp is. The landscapes during the hike and from the camp are just great, with the Huascarans just beside and the Huandoys, Pisco, Chacraraju and others, across the valley.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 769 m / Highest Altitude: 4978 m / Activity duration: 4-5 h / Distance: 4,9 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 12

Chopicalqui high camp (5300 m)
After an almost guarantee very scenic sunrise, the team will start to prepare for the climb up to high camp. After leaving BC, the trails swings between boulders up the glacier. The team gears up and start the glacier crossing, finding its way around crevasses and seracs, it is very fun!.
The last section is quite gentle up to high camp, which lies on the glacier, just beside the trail. On the afternoon a summits briefing, preparation of the climb and early dinner.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 322 m / Highest Altitude: 5300 m / Activity duration: 4-5 h / Distance: 2,1 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 13

Climb: Chopicalqui (6354 m)
Chopicalqui is a very aesthetic mountain, located just beside the Huascarans, which make it look small in comparison, but make no mistake, it is a big and demanding peak. Located in the center of the Cordillera, is a very accesible summit and therefore often attempt by mountaineers. The normal route follows the Southwest ridge that in good conditions is rated AD. The climb is a very exiting one, accompanied of great views, a physical ascent and rewarding summit!

The climb starts from high camp, retaking the tracks from the day before. Then it ascent over a wide ridge towards a series of huge steeps that have to be negotiated along the way. The glacier varies form year to year and sometimes it can be a complex route finding and some others very straight forward. The upper part of the route is quite exposed and if there was been a recent snow fall, it can be difficult. Once on the summit, most of the Cordillera Blanca and many of the lower valles will be visible…a breath taking moment!.
Descent back to high camp, a short break for packing and then off to the lower BC.
Night in tent.
Ascent: 1054 m / Descent: 1376 m / Highest Altitude: 6354 m / Activity duration: 10-12 h / Distance to the summit: 1,6 Km. / Distance from summit to BC: 3,7 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic, Dinner

Day 14

Back to Huaraz
After a good rest and a easygoing breakfast, the group will start the descent from base camp to the main road (4209 m), where a transport will be waiting to take the group back to Huaraz (3 h), driving down the Llanganuco by the Orconcha (Male lake) and Chinanconcha (female lake) deep green lakes before dropping down into a narrow gorge that leads to Cajon Del Huaylas and then south to Huaraz. This trip will take about 3 hours.
Night in hostel.
Descend: 769 m / Highest Altitude: 4978 m / Activity duration: 3-4 h / Distance: 4,9 Km.
Included meals: Breakfast, Picnic

Day 15

Huaraz – Lima & departure
Transfer-out to Huaraz’s bus terminal for a tourist public bus to Lima (8 h). Upon arrival in Lima, there will be a transfer to the international airport (30 min) for the international flight departure.
End of services.
Included meals: Breakfast

PRICING
PER-13 – To request prices, please click on the BOOK TRIP bottom on the right sidebar and fill the information.

INCLUDED

  • Local English speaking mountain guide from day 2 to 14
  • Assistant guides during the mountain itinerary and climbs 1:3
  • Assistant guides for Chopicalqui climb 1:2
  • Entrances fees to Huascaran National Park
  • Private transfers in Lima
  • First class tourist public bus Lima-Huaraz-Lima
  • Private transportation in the mountain area
  • 1 night in shared double rooms in Lima
  • 3 nights in shared double rooms in Huaraz
  • Quality mountain tents (2 PAX per tent) from day 4 to 13
  • Group common campsite equipment
  • Pack animals for group campsite equipment, food and personal gear
  • Porters to/from high camp on Chopicalqui for common gear
  • Cook during the trek
  • Dining and toilet tents
  • Common climbing equipment (Ropes, ice screws, snow pickets, etc)
  • Complete mountain First Aid kit and Oxygen for emergency porpoises
  • Meals as specified in the day to day itinerary

NOT INCLUDED

  • Domestic and international flights
  • Separate airport transfers in case of multiple arrival/departures
  • Porters to/from high camp on Chopicalqui for personal gear (Available upon request)
  • Personal camping equipment
  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Everything not mentioned in the “Included” list
HOTEL LIST

LIMA: El Monte Real or similar

HUARAZ: Hostel La Casa de Zarela or similar

MAP

Overview:


Cordillera Blanca:

Trekking & climbing areas:

Tags: Climbing, Peru, Cordillera Blanca, Alpamayo, AD, AD grade, Huaraz, Pisco, Chopicalqui, LLanganuco, Vaqueria, Santa Cruz trek, Cashapampa, Punta union, Artesonraju